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Gambling Advertising May Soon Be Illegal In Ireland

The gambling landscape in Ireland is going to change by the end of 2021. That is when a proposed ban on all gambling advertising is due to take effect. According to the Minister of State for Justice, James Brown, an advertising ban is part of new legislation that will alter how the gambling industry is regulated in Ireland. The push to tighten up on regulations related to gambling in the country is coming from both political and public concerns. High on that list is the need for a gambling commission to oversee all gambling activity in Ireland and other guidelines that appear in the draft Gambling (Prohibition of Advertising) Bill 2021. These and more changes are being supported by the Irish Labour Party.

Why Ban Gambling Advertising?

Although the Irish Labour Party holds just six seats and is not part of the current ruling coalition, the Bill will have a great deal of difficulty becoming law without enough support. However, the basic principles of the Bill, gambling advertising, in particular, has garnered interest from some interesting members of the Irish Government. The Department of Justice Minister, Helen McEntee, has not publicly stated how she feels about the proposal but the Minister of Public Health, Frankie Feighan, says he supports the basic concept of the bill.

The Irish Labour Party has managed to get support on the advertising ban from influential sports authorities including the Gaelic Athletic Association and the Gaelic Players Association. The advertising ban has received strong support from the College of Psychiatrists who have linked advertising to problem gambling. This is the main reason why the proposed Bill has a component within it to ban gambling advertising.

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What They Had To Say

The Interim Gaming and Lotteries Act was adopted into law in 2020 and is the most recent piece of legislation related to gambling. However, it contains limited objectives. Brown recently commented that “This Act modernizes the Gaming and Lotteries Act 1956 and will help the better promotion of local gaming and lottery activity. These activities, held primarily for charitable and philanthropic purposes, are the lifeblood of our sporting clubs and community organizations across the country.” Some of the provisions to be included in that amendment to the 1956 act were to standardize the minimum age of 18 for participation in any gambling activity, improvements to the application process for gaming or lottery permits, and enhanced consumer protection guidelines. At the time, Brown admitted there was more to do to improve the situation and was quoted as saying, “my department is now engaged in the drafting of a general scheme of a new bill to provide for comprehensive reform.” The draft he was referencing is the one that contains a ban on gambling advertising.

What The President of Ireland Thinks

Michael D Higgins, Ireland’s President has indicated that he favors the direction of treating gambling advertising as a public health issue. While at the opening ceremony of Carraig Eden, a gambling rehabilitation center in Wicklow, he stated, “I am well-aware of the situation having spent time recently meeting with several people who have managed to overcome various types of addictions, gambling included.” He added that warnings that currently exist advising people to gamble responsibly are not enough and need to be more graphic in details related to potential problems such as a gambling addiction. He says gambling advertising is not doing enough to get that part of the message across. This is what appears to be one of the main problems without an advertising guideline in place for the marketing of any form of gambling in the country.

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Not The First Attempt

A bill to regulate or ban gambling advertising is nothing new in Ireland. The previous attempt at the same goals dates back to 2013 when Ireland’s ministers presented a bill that was to see gambling advertising controlled to prevent an increase in the number of people with gambling addiction. That bill did not pass but with a new set of regulators occupying seats in the government, Brown is convinced that this time the bill will be passed and adopted into law. Part of the proposed law is to prevent Ireland’s youth from being exposed to gambling activities through advertising. Ireland is a small country, but gambling figures for a total of $10 billion spent annually. That puts Ireland at 7th in the world.

Casino Operators Jumping On Board

Flutter Entertainment, a company that operates some of the top online casinos in Ireland, has recently taken measures to address some of the concerns noted in the proposed bill. Flutter has banned the use of credit cards by Irish gamblers at any of their sites and the company has pulled all marketing and promotional advertising from sporting events. Flutter has even taken it a step further pledging to donate 1% of its Net Gaming Revenue to assist with problem gambling support and educational programs. The company has already provided donations to Ireland’s Gambling Awareness Trust. According to Flutter CEO Conor Grant, “We welcome the Irish Government’s commitment to introducing gambling regulation during its lifetime but gambling operators must act responsibly without being required to do so.” It is not known if the proposed bill has provisions for industry leaders to provide input on how to best address the advertising concerns.

Final Thoughts

Gambling addiction is an issue in Ireland and advertising has been named the target. With changes expected by the end of the year, should a proposed bill be passed, there will be less exposure to Irish youth when it comes to the marketing of gambling products in the country. Will it reduce the seriousness of gambling addiction in the tiny country? It is hard to say, but anything that regulates how information gets out regarding gaming and lotteries can’t hurt the situation any more than it is at this point. Whether or not it gets passed is anyone’s guess but the odds are in favor of the underdog Irish Labour Party with support from some key players in the industry that could be enough to sway the vote into the territory of passing the bill into law.

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